Arizona Cardinals (12-7) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4)
Super Bowl XLIII Tampa Bay, F.L., February 1, Sunday, 6:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The single biggest game in all of sports is amongst us with the Super Bowl showdown less than one week away. This years match-up host an unlikely emerging contender in the Arizona Cardinals from the NFC. They will battle with the powerhouse defensively led Pittsburgh Steelers out of the AFC. The game should be interesting match-up to say the least highlighting the Cardinals high power offense against perhaps the best defense in the last decade from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Arizona has held the underdog title throughout the Playoffs considering they finished the regular season with a measly 9-7 mark and have surprised everyone in every game this post season. Pittsburgh came into the playoffs as the favorites in the AFC and they have yet to disappoint with two solid victories over San Diego and Baltimore. The game marks two very different milestones for both franchises. Arizona is making their first Super Bowl appearance and also seeking their first Lombardi Trophy. Pittsburgh on the other hand already has 5 Super Bowl Trophies and will try to become the first franchise in NFL history to win their 6th
Pittsburgh has one of the most brutal and powerful defenses in the league. Amazingly this season the Steelers ranked first in defensive scoring, total yards, and passing yards per game while ranking 2nd in the other major defensive category which is rush defense. The Pittsburgh defense will have a tough challenge holding down the Arizona pass offense, but the Steelers have proved time and time again this year that they can dominate any opposing offense. The Steelers defense has held opponents to only 237 yards per game on the season. Arizona is ranked 3rd in the NFL with 365 yards per game. The Arizona offense and Pittsburgh defense will be the battle that everyone will be watching the entire game.
However there has not been near as much talk as the other side of the ball. Pittsburgh only averaged slightly over 20 points per game this season, but has put up 30 points on average in their last 3 games including the two big playoff contests. The Pittsburgh offense seemingly would be ecstatic to be on the field with the Arizona defense considering the Cardinals were among one of the worse scoring defenses in the NFL allowing 27 points per game through the regular season. However, the Arizona defense has played really well in the playoffs and it will be interesting to see how much success QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will have on offense.
Most sportsbooks have set the betting line favoring the Steelers by 6.5 points in the week leading to the Super Bowl with an over/under total of 46.5 points. Odds for the Arizona Cardinals to wins with the moneyline are standing at +210 with Pittsburgh being held at -250 as favorites. The betting public has been pretty indecisive with no clear favorite for the game, but the Arizona Cardinals have the edge with 53% of bettors favoring the Cardinals to cover the spread. Nearly 70% of the early betting action is going on the over total during the game since both offenses have been striving throughout the postseason. There are many different prop bets for the Super Bowl as well that you can check out in the sportsbooks Super Bowl sections as well.
The Arizona Cardinals offense has been absolutely outstanding throughout the playoffs. Veteran QB Kurt Warner has been exactly what Arizona has needed to get them to excel at this point in the season. Warner has led the Arizona potent air assault this season with over 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns. Warner success originated from Super Bowl XXXIV back in 2000 when he led St. Louis Rams to their first every Super Bowl Championship. However, Warners leadership through this years playoffs has been noticed by everyone and he will have the chance to be the man responsible for earning another franchise their fist Lombardi Trophy. Through the post season Warner has completed 66% of his passes for an average of 256 yards per game along with 8 touchdowns. The veteran quarterback will need to showcase more of his talents in effort to lead the Cardinals over the very strong Steelers defense.
The man that may be the real difference in this game opposed to Kurt Warner on offense is that of WR Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has been unmatched during the playoffs. Fitzgerald became the first ever wide out to catch 3 touchdowns in the first half of a conference championship in the NFC Title Game. Fitzgerald also broke a post season record with 419 receiving yards over the great Jerry Rice. Fitzgerald has one more game to go and one last opportunity to lead his team to greatness. WR Anquan Boldin has not had many highlights during the playoffs, but he cannot be forgotten heading into the Super Bowl. Boldin and Fitzgerald feed off each other and with Fitzgerald success in the last few weeks Boldin may have the opportunity to capitalize. Boldin was fairly equal to the same stats Fitzgerald had during the regular season with over a 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Do not expect the Steelers defense to forget about Boldin, but if Fitzgerald can get a few big catches early then Boldin and the rest of the Cardinals receivers could be in store for a big day.
Both teams went 9-7 ATS this season and covered every game during the playoffs. Arizona is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games while the Steelers hold an even more impressive mark at 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games. The Cardinals beat the Steelers early in the year during the regular season 21-14. In the last 5 meetings between the two teams, the over total has been reached in 4 of those meetings. The Steelers went 2-2 this season against the NFC while Arizona also sported a 2-2 mark against the AFC this season.
Jay’s Pick: I like the Steelers to cover the points. I like the game to go UNDER as well.